• 61°

Editorial: Finding the energy to grow

Buck Steam Plant, Duke Energy’s coal-fired facility in Rowan County, reflects the shift taking place in the energy industry. As Duke closes down two of Buck’s coal-burning units in the coming years, the company plans to bring new natural gas fired combustion turbines online. The cost of the expansion and modernization is estimated to be $600 million.
That’s just one sign of Duke’s shift to more diverse fuel sources, a change that Duke Energy Carolinas President Ellen Ruff says will accelerate in years to come. Judging from Ruff’s comments at Catawba College on Wednesday, the transition will not be instant or financially painless. Some of the alternatives people like to rhapsodize about ó solar and wind power, for example ó cannot be counted on 24/7 and might not be as heartily embraced as you would think. Imagine the uproar if Duke dotted the Outer Banks (a nice, windy spot) with industrial-strength windmills, for example. And the expenses associated with taking advantage of other renewables or natural gas risk making electricity unaffordable for users or unprofitable for shareholders ó not a lasting solution.
But the company is diversifying. As it does, Ruff calls for more public debate about the nation’s energy future so companies like Duke will know where consumers’ priorities lie. It’s one thing to love solar power, for example, quite another to think it can completely replace coal or nuclear energy in the near future. Where’s the tipping point between protecting the environment and keeping energy affordable? How can any energy company keep its commitment to shareholders to make a profit while venturing into more costly ways to produce electricity? And how can this all happen fast enough to keep up with the region’s growth?
Most people don’t want to think about these issues and consider the trade-offs required to keep the lights on in their homes and businesses. Consumers tend to react ó to high prices, to what they consider dirty forms of fuel, to interruptions in service. But they don’t want to be responsible for the balancing act it takes to keep electricity reliable, clean and cost-effective.
People who heard Ruff’s talk Wednesday in the Crystal Lounge got a taste of the high emotions these questions can stir. One questioner, first purporting to be a student and then admitting she was not, launched a loaded question about whether Ruff suffered any sleepless nights knowing the potentially fatal consequences of mountain top mining, a method for extracting coal. Ruff said Duke has an obligation by statute to provide power, and coal is one of the ways it does so during this time of transition. That’s her story and she’s sticking to it. But you can be sure questions like this come up again and again, and that environmental concerns help speed the company’s transition to other types of fuel. Consumers need to plug into the debate and consider the full costs of keeping the lights on.

Comments

Comments closed.

Lifestyle

Waterworks schedules 2021 Summer ARTventures

Crime

Blotter: Man faces drug charges after being found passed out in vehicle

Ask Us

Ask Us: What programs exist for litter cleanup?

Business

County begins accepting restaurant grant applications

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with nine more felony sex offenses

Nation/World

Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief

Nation/World

Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new solar wings

Nation/World

Cuomo sorry for remarks aide ‘misinterpreted’ as harassment

Nation/World

Trump calls for GOP unity, repeats lies about election loss

Education

Rowan County administers 700 vaccines, with majority going to local educators

Crime

Shoplifting at Walmart presents challenge for Salisbury police

Local

Commissioners will hear details about changes to solar energy policies

Business

After overcoming obstacles, local barber Daniel King earns registered status

Lifestyle

39th annual K12 student exhibitions go virtual

Business

Biz Roundup: Chamber of Commerce to host ‘Salute to Agri-Business’ at March Power in Partnership

Local

Local legislators back bills ranging from new restrictions on sex offenders to Holocaust education

News

After surviving COVID-19 scare, Lois Willard set to celebrate 100th birthday

High School

Carson rolls over South 41-0 as about 600 allowed in to see season opener for both

Education

East Spencer after-school program looks toward opening, nonprofit status

Lifestyle

Frank Ramsey inducted into the NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame

College

Livingstone’s Stoutamire inducted into 2021 CIAA Hall of Fame

Nation/World

J&J’s 1-dose shot cleared, giving US 3rd COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

13 deaths reported in Rowan, county stresses need to receive second dose

Coronavirus

10% of Rowan residents receive first dose; eight COVID-19 deaths reported this week